Governor signs bill that allows some to pay in-state tuition rates

By Gus Bode

Illinois joins New York, Texas four other states in decision to allow immigrants in-state tuition immigration

Prior to Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s mid-May decision, only two Illinois schools offered in-state tuition rates to immigrants. This figure changed drastically when the governor placed his signature on a bill that made children of undocumented aliens eligible for these rates at all Illinois schools.

Immigrants, who have spent at least three years at and graduated from any Illinois high school, will pay thousands of dollars less to get into state universities and community colleges. The decision was made on May 18 when Blagojevich, a child of immigrants himself, signed the law that allowed the children of immigrants to pay in-state tuition, making Illinois the seventh state with a measure of this sort. Fourteen other states are taking similar bills into consideration


“This is a very favorable decision,” said Josef Curiel, a family education specialist from Mexico City who has resided here for the past 10 years. “There are a lot of people here who have the characteristics of someone who wants to excel, but most Mexican migrants don’t have anyone to foot the bill.”

Kiattisiak Phongkusalchit said, although the bill does not directly affect him, he could see positive long-term effects for the immigrants eligible to benefit from the decision.

“It’s good because a lot of immigrants don’t come here for long, and don’t have time to settle down much,” said Phongkusalchit, a student from Thailand who graduated in manufacturing systems. “This is a way to help them so that they can eventually help themselves.”

While the recent decision was popular with most, and attracted a large, predominantly Hispanic crowd at the signing ceremony, there is some opposition to the bill.

Opponents criticized the decision, saying that it would cause an increase in immigration, and, essentially, it provides incentives for those who had entered the country illegally.

Despite criticism, those in favor of the decision felt strongly that the bill was undoubtedly worth the approximately $1 million it would cost the state.

“Prior to this, immigrants had to pay out-of state tuition,” Curiel said. “Since Southern Illinois is gifted with so many orchards, [immigrants] can stay here and take part in the apple of opportunity.”


Reporter Jessica Yorama can be reached at [email protected]